Developer Network Effects

Dec 27, 2021

AWS recently announced Re:Post, a Q&A site focused on AWS technologies. I think this is a great idea, and is doubling down on a key competency of AWS – there's always someone else who has already done it on AWS. It fills a void left by an aging and stagnant StackOverflow (which was acquired earlier this year by an investment group).

Q&A sites are one of the most useful developer resources because they aggregate network effects. Copying code from StackOverflow's Q&A has is such a meme that the company came out with a Copy/Paste keyboard for April Fools with only three keys – Control, C, and V. In every meme, there is truth.

Existing work is one of top considerations (of mine) when I'm evaluating a new framework for commercial usage. Who is already using this? What examples are there? Has anyone tried to do X with this? What's a workaround for Y? These are all questions that are easily answer by looking at 1) the GitHub repository, or 2) StackOverflow.

While I wrote in my reflections on programming that sometimes you come across problems that don't have an answer on the internet, the vast majority do – and have fairly good answers.

GitHub/Microsoft could plausibly do this but hasn't. Issues, Wikis, and Pages aren't the appropriate forum for Q&A – although some maintainers try to use issues as such. Azure also has a Q&A site, but it seems to be more of a one-way support forum rather than a true community. These sites need to be community driven to work.